LEGOLAND traffic has been singled out for causing an area of Windsor to experience air pollution levels usually reserved for places near motorways and congested town centres.
An Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) has been declared by the council around the St Leonards Road/Imperial Road junction as the amount of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) in the air around the area have far exceeded nationally-set benchmarks.
The issue was raised at a meeting of the council’s Highways and Transport Panel on Monday last week by the Royal Borough’s environment protection team leader Chris Nash.
Speaking at the meeting, Clewer North councillor John Fido said: “Clearly peak time at Legoland is going to exacerbate this pollution.”
The discussion came after an earlier presentation about ways to combat the crippling traffic chaos during peak periods at the theme park.
Mr Nash said: “As you can imagine, this report is very relevant to what we have been talking about earlier.”
An AQMA is declared after extensive monitoring of NO2 levels and if they exceed annual targets. National legislation states an AQMA must be declared if the annual mean measurements taken from an area exceeds 40 microgrammes per cubic metre (μg/m3).
This has been exceeded every year since 2007 in the St Leonards Road/Imperial Junction area and was 50% higher at one monitoring point in 2012 – the most recent figures published.
There are only four other AQMAs in the Royal Borough – in Wraysbury close to the M25, Maidenhead town centre, the M4/A308 junction in Bray and West Windsor.
Resident Helen Price had spoken about measures needed to curtail congestion earlier in the meeting.
Speaking after the meeting, she said: “I spoke in December [at a planning meeting where Legoland was on the agenda] about air pollution issues caused by the traffic and it was ignored.
“It is not a pleasant thing to have. You certainly wouldn’t recommend a friend to buy a house in Imperial Road because of the air pollution and the traffic.”
The council will now prepare an Air Quality Action Plan tying in with their Local Transport Plan to combat the issue.
A heated discussion earlier in the meeting at the Town Hall, in St Ives Road, Maidenhead, revolved around traffic congestion policies being adopted by Legoland and the Royal Borough.
Speaking at the meeting, councillor Michael John Saunders said: “I am stunned that you can manage the queuing within your park so extraordinarily well and yet you clog up the roads of the Royal Borough without thought or consideration.”
In response, Legoland divisional director Sue Kemp said: “The difference between the queues in the park with queuing cars is that we have 100% control of what goes on in our park.”
A series of traffic calming measures and trials will be in place ahead of the Winkfield Road park re-opening during the Easter holidays.